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By 7 April 2010 | Categories: news

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The Lion of Judah, the first full-length 3D animation feature film produced in South Africa, is set to hit local screens later this year. The movie is being created by local animation studio Character Matters and is in its final stages of production, with the assistance of the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) in Cape Town.
 
The storyline follows the adventures of a band of farm animals, Horace the loveable pig, Monty the timid horse, Slink the fussy rat, Drake the long-winded rooster, Esmay the motherly cow and Jack the demoralized donkey. They are out to save Judah the gallant lamb from the being sacrificed by the townspeople.

To bring to life the lush animated world of Judah, Chris Schoultz, owner of Character Matters, had to deal with a dizzying amount of data - every blade of grass, every cloud in the sky, every animal, exists digitally, and has to be stored somewhere and processed. In all the production process for Lion of Judah generated over 25 terabytes of information.

There are very few local facilities that can handle those volumes of information. This is where the CHPC comes in, as they provide massive computing power to research institutions as well as the private sector. CHPC together with Microsoft South Africa installed a bank of Windows HPC Server machines in order to be able to work with Character Matters’ format.
 
“The fact that CHPC’s architecture can now take full advantage of the performance offered by Windows HPC Server 2008 means that extremely large datasets, impossibly large for 32-bit systems, can be rendered. This makes it possible to create images with incredible complexity and raises the bar once again for cinematic imagery and visual effects,” said Microsoft South Africa’s head of platform strategy, Paulo Ferreira.

The CHPC’s Dr. Happy Sithole says the success of movies like Avatar – and how they are built – makes modern movie-making more of a technology project than ever before. The CHPC says it will encourage other local animation studios to use their facility.

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